Say yes to disc golf

Commission should approve Upper Park site

Remember the disc-golf controversy? Well, it’s back, after a hiatus of about a year while the city and its consultants completed the final environmental-impact report on the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan.

On Monday (Aug. 24), the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission is scheduled to vote on the final EIR. It also will make a recommendation on the disc-golf courses proposed for Upper Park as part of the master management plan.

Back in May 2006, when the commission gave its blessing to the master management plan, it postponed action on the disc-golf/trailhead-access component, preferring to wait until the final EIR had been prepared. That moment is here.

Opponents say disc golf is an inappropriate use for Upper Park, that disc golf is harmful to plants and wildlife, that building the courses will set a precedent for further, similar projects in Upper Park, and that Annie Bidwell’s deed prohibits such encroachments.

We don’t agree. The site, which is on a bluff above the park off Highway 32, is inaccessible from Upper Park Road and rarely used by anyone other than disc golfers. For them, it’s ideal, offering varied play and stunning views of the canyon. And it’s popular, with hundreds of golfers using it on a regular basis.

Remember, too, that the area was thoroughly studied and the tournament-level courses were designed by a professional disc-golf designer—who is also a trained biologist—to mitigate their environmental impacts.

Done right, disc golf should have no more effect on the park than mountain biking or hiking.

Nor do the courses set a precedent—the master management plan sees to that. As for Annie’s deed, it’s irrelevant in this case. This section of the park wasn’t part of her original bequest. In fact, until about 15 years ago, it belonged to the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Indeed, at this point the only meaningful reason not to build the disc-golf courses is money. It will be up to the City Council to figure out how to fund them. Perhaps there’s a creative solution. We hope so. In the meantime, we urge the Park Commission to support building high-quality, environmentally sound disc-golf courses in Upper Park.